Jainism is founded on the principle of non-violence. That equates to unconditional love and compassion towards all beings. Jains believe that each and every living being has the same eternal soul within them.
The religion is founded upon Anekantavada (multiplicity of views) in that no one is ever wrong, everyone is right from their own perspective. Making Jains the least proliferated people in the entire world. While others may quarrel about whose world view is right in that the Creator, creation, manifestation, death and post death activities, Jains can see the reasoning behind each belief from many perspectives.
Back to the food. By definition, Jains are fruitatarians which means they can only eat that which has fallen to the ground or come from a plant that has not been entirely killed in the process of acquiring said food. So, that means root vegetables such as onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots and all others are strictly forbidden in sacred Jain texts.
The secondary reason for not consuming the root vegetables is because they contain several millions of Nigodh (sub-microscopic) single celled beings that take birth and die countless times during the course of the life of the root that they inhabit.
You are what you eat. And by consuming any such root vegetables or meat, you’re awakening the animal or delusional characteristics of yourself. This is mostly not preferred for Jains who aspire to self realization.
Atma Jnana is the knowledge and experience of one’s self as separate from the body, mind, and senses. This human birth is the only one where we have the discrimination and possibility to ascend to the levels of divinity within us.
The world is similar to a dream and our life is nothing more than a mere brief illusion. Our true self is the soul, eternal, bliss filled and joyous. Our gross bodies are mere projections of our past deeds or karmas. What we have today is because of what we invested in prior births. The Karma theory is quite long to explain but simply put, you reap what you sow.
Enlightenment comes through selfless service, meditation, and the adoption of a Sadguru (True Guru). A True Guru is defined as a self-realized soul. A person still in their bodies and externally no different than you or me, but internally, they have attained that supreme knowledge of being the soul and not the body.
So, all our activities on this earth, while we’re here are towards the goal of self realization and enlightenment. All souls are equal and can ascend to the same level. Each person is a future God, so to speak. And so is each animal, ant, plant and being. While here, being practical, we have to maintain our bodies and so we consume food.
Being vegan has nothing to do with being Jain. It is purely a choice to try and live a more cruelty free life.
One can be a true Jain and not be a vegan. One can be a vegan and be a horrible Jain.
Food is there to sustain us not the reason for our life. So, let’s enjoy each moment, but not forget who we truly are. Eternally blissful souls.
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